MANILA (Mabuhay) — GMA Network radio anchorman Carmelo Magdurulang del Prado (a.k.a. Melo del Prado) on Tuesday filed a libel complaint against staff members of the Philippine Daily Inquirer for its issues last March claiming he received so-called payoffs in the guise of ad expenses from the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund.
Del Prado went to the Quezon City Hall of Justice Tuesday to file his complaint before Assistant City Prosecutor Reynaldo Garcia.
“Hinintay kong makapanganak ang misis ko … Nang lumabas yan talagang grabe peligro sa buhay niya at sinapupunan kong anak. Ngayon nakapanganak na siya, tuloy na [ang kaso],” he said.
Named respondents in the complaint were:
Raul Pangalangan, publisher
Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, editor-in-chief
Jose Ma. Nolasco, managing editor
Abelardo Ulanday, associate editor for online
Artemio Engracia Jr., news editor
Nancy Carvajal, reporter
They held those positions at the time the articles came out.
Also named respondents were former officials of the National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR), including:
Victor Roman Cacal
The suit stemmed from the Inquirer’s issues on March 19, 20 and 21, as well as a post by Inquirer.net last March 18.
In those articles, del Prado was said to have received “payoffs” from NABCOR.
‘Baseless from the very beginning’
Del Prado’s lawyer Reginald Francisco said the accusations were “baseless from the very beginning as all our evidence will bear.”
“The respondents made and caused the publications either knowing that the information was false, or at the very least, in reckless disregarded whether it was false or not. That is our legal definition of actual malice as defined by our Supreme Court that relied heavily on American jurisprudence, specifically New York Times vs. Sullivan,” he said.
He added Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she saw nothing in those affidavits implicating del Prado.
Even Levito Baligod, the lawyer of Cacal and Mendoza in the PDAF scam case, had been quoted in a recorded interview that no media personality was mentioned in those affidavits, he said.
For his part, del Prado said the checks he received from NABCOR were payments for airing radio commercials of the Department of Agriculture for its Barangay Bagsakan campaign.
The campaign sought to inform the public where to buy cheap food.
He added these checks were all fully documented from the broadcast contract between NABCOR and GMA, billing invoices, vouchers, copies of the checks, official receipts, certificates of performance to BIR Form 2307 which shows that the corresponding tax was withheld.
Also, he said even the Inquirer and its tabloid Bandera had print ads of the DA’s Barangay Bagsakan campaign.
“Kumpleto kami sa lahat ng katibayan pati kontrata at tseke ng NABCOR sa PDI. Anong payoff ang pinagsasabi nila? Sila mismo kumita sa lehitimong ad campaign na iyan.” he said.
Last May, GMA Network cleared del Prado of allegations he received payoffs in the form of advertising expenses from NABCOR. (MNS)